Recognizing the 4 Types of Pearls

Whether you’re searching for a traditional pearl necklace or a cutting-edge pearl engagement ring, you should know and understand the different types of pearl to help you make a better purchase decision. But where should you begin your education? Here’s a quick rundown of pearl similarities and variations.


Akoya Pearls

When you imagine a pearl, you’re imagining an Akoya pearl. They’re small, white and lustrous, and they dominate the market in everything from earrings to necklaces to pearl pendants. They’re also classically harvested, coming from the pinctada fucata oyster, and their shine and roundness makes them a popular choice for fine jewelry all around the world. In short, if you’re looking for a classic pearl, Akoyas are the ones you want.

Tahitian Pearls

Big, bold and beautiful, Tahitian pearls offer an exotic twist on the traditional image of pearls. For starters, they’re much larger than average, clocking in at anywhere from 8mm to 16mm. They also come in a variety of colors, including blue, green and dark purple. You might not even believe they’re real pearls when you see them, but their unique style makes them the second-biggest seller of their type. There’s a reason these little gems are known as “The Queen of Pearls,” so sit back and watch them reign.

Freshwater Pearls

Mostly found in lakes and small ponds in Asia, freshwater pearls bear a striking resemblance to their Akoya brothers. The differences lie in their “flawed” design, like their asymmetrical roundness or off-white coloring that hints at the pastel. Many shoppers actually enjoy these imperfections, however: You know you’re getting the real deal with freshwater pearls. You know it’s a true, one-of-a-kind jewel that was really harvested from a brook in China. In a market dominated with fakes, these assurances can be priceless.

South Sea Pearls

If you want your jewelry to really make a statement, consider shopping for South Sea pearls. These massive gems can grow up to a staggering 20mm, and their colors range from shining whites to deep, brilliant golds. You can’t find them anywhere else but Australia and the Philippines, so their rarity adds even more appeal. South Sea pearls are for the woman who isn’t afraid to turn heads wherever she goes.

These are the main types of pearls found in fine jewelry. For more information, including purchase options, visit a professional pearl importer like The Pearl Source (


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